As spring approaches and the 2008 Riesling drys and clears, I am focusing the winery on the important task of becoming licensed to sell wine. New York has several types of winery licenses. A typical micro winery license requires a yearly license fee in excess of $1,000 and a $10,000 bond. A special farm winery license is available for $175 per year and a $1,000 bond. The key requirements of a New York farm winery license are:
1) Only use New York grown grapes
2) Need to have a farm (no minimum acreage requirement)
3) No more than 150,000 gallons of wine annually
Requirements 1 and 3 have never been a problem for the Shier Winery. Requirement 2 is more complicated. I sought further guidance from the New York Liquor Authority on the minimum requirements for a farm. I never received an answer, but the application instructions are very clear that there are no minimum acreage requirements. I decided to clear a small portion of land and to plant Riesling vines this May. I have reason to believe that the soil is conducive to grape growth because the land on which the Shier stands was a vineyard about 50-100 years ago. The biggest issue will be the limited sunlight with all of the trees on the property. I will need to take down some smaller trees when planting. I ordered 100 Riesling vines mixed among four clones from the nursery at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard in the Finger Lakes. The vineyard is within a few miles of the vineyard where I have been purchasing Riesling grapes on Route 14 in Dundee, New York.